French actor and parkour inventor, David Belle, talks about Brick Mansions, working with Paul Walker and bringing his academy to India
David Belle introduced moviegoers to the art of parkour—a training discipline that uses body movement—with his 2004 French movie, District B13 and its sequel District 13: Ultimatum. Since then, action and chase sequences in movies have undergone transformation. Now, the French actor will recapture the sequences in the American adaptation of the movie, Brick Mansions, which also stars the late Paul Walker. A stunt co-ordinator and international movie star, Belle had, in a recent interview, shared plans to visit India to promote the movie, meet fans and possibly open a parkour academy here. More from the actor:
Given that Brick Mansions is the American adaptation of the French District 13, your experience?
It sometimes takes me a while to get into a film that I am working on and this was a new thing for me— to speak in English, to work with American actors. But they were really cool, they made me feel at ease, so I was able to express myself the way I wanted.
How was it working with Paul Walker?
He was a little crazy, like me. His friends used to call him Peter Pan because he had the spirit of a child. When we met (Walker) said to me, ‘I think I found someone with a more youthful spirit than myself.’ The set was like a playground for him.
Did you ever get hurt while shooting?
We got hurt all the time. One injury would disappear, and another would appear somewhere else.
Any challenges while shooting the action scenes?
In one particular scene, it was very hot and we fell a lot on gravel. It was very tiring and we had to be extra careful. Because we (me and Walker) wanted it to be realistic, our first tendency was to really go for it. So we had to establish boundaries.
You don’t talk much, but we see you a lot, especially on Dailymotion, with all the parkour stuff.
Parkour is to move with the sensation that your spirit is controlling where you are going and the body is only following. Before, I moved to stay fit, without really knowing how it could be useful. When my father told me about “parcours” (French army training) and what it did to him, I understood why we have arms and legs.
What does one have to keep in mind in parkour?
Everyone likes playing in water, diving, and jumping from rocks to do flips. But the base is to learn to swim. The same is true with parkour.
Brick Mansions releases today.